Despite the hype around 5G, the next big speed race around mobile is going to be around "Gigabit Class LTE," and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) kicked it off at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans this week.
Sprint -- with a little help from Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and Motorola -- showed off a new, as yet unreleased Moto phone that was getting downloads of up to 612.5 Mbit/s when Light Reading tried it. The phone has 4x4 MIMO -- 8 antenna elements -- on board, while the Sprint network used MIMO antennas and 3-channel carrier aggregation (3x20MHz 2.5GHz radio channels) to work its magic. All to the loud backdrop of a New Orleans Pelicans basketball game. (See Sprint to Be 1st in US With Massive MIMO?)
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Getting to Gigabit isn't purely about MIMO on the network or in your smartphone though. Sprint is already deploying bonded 2.5GHz radio channels -- known as 3-carrier aggregation (3CA) -- to get 60MHz channels, which increase speed and capacity, in some markets.
"We are looking at 4CA and 5-channel carrier aggregation," Sprint CTO John Saw said.
5CA is the gateway to 5G for Sprint. This would bump its available bandwidth up to 100MHz, which is expected to be the minimum requirement for 5G channels.(See Sprint Gets Ready for Massive MIMO, Eyes 2.5GHz for 5G.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading